Twitter Faces $50M Lawsuit Over Controversial Hashtag

April 1, 2013
In October 2012, a court in France ordered social media giant Twitter to identify its online users who tweeted anti-Semitic comments and hate posts. When Twitter refused to follow the order, it was sued for $50 million by UEJF or the Union of Jewish French Students. The lawsuit was filed on March 20, 2013 with a correctional tribunal in Paris. According to Jonathan Hayoun, president of UEJF, they were compelled to file the lawsuit after Twitter was given two weeks from January 24, 2013 to comply with the demand by the organization. France has laws opposing hate speech even online. The UEJF shared that the $50 million it expects from Twitter will go to an organization that specifically maintains the memory of the Holocaust. The UEJF president shared that Twitter should be penalized for failing to adhere to the ruling. By failing to divulge the identities of the individuals who violated the French rules, Twitter has made itself an accomplice to anti-Semites and racists, the group said. According to Twitter, it is an American company based in California and follows the United States laws and policies. The website contends that it has the right to broad free speech under the First Amendment. However, the judge decided that posts from Twitter users located in France should still comply with the regulations and laws of their country. They should be prohibited and punished for violating laws against hate and racial speech. In an interview with CNET, a spokesperson for the micro-blogging giant said the UEJF was "sadly more interested in grandstanding than taking the proper international legal path for this data." This is not actually the first time that Twitter was attacked for allowing online users to express themselves freely online; but Twitter has rules and policies that protect users from attacks and offensive tweets from others. Violation of these rules can lead to suspension or banning.

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